Binge Battle planournals were created to help people explore and monitor habits that suck away time, energy, and motivation.
You know the ones—the ones that are so insidiously enjoyable that you find yourself trapped in the never-ending 'one more minute'.
Or, perhaps, you are more like me; familiar with a habit you like to get lost in when life becomes overwhelming, giving up big chunks of minutes on purpose. My favorite form of escapism is to binge watch TV. Preferably with wine. It took me a long time to realize how much of my life I was letting get sucked away night after night. My name is Nicole, and this is...
The memory of when I drove my comatose five-year-old to the emergency room at four o’clock in the morning sneaks up on me from time to time.
A few times a year maybe.
Driving at night is typically the trigger; something about the way the lane markings and stunted head-light beams disappear into the black void to create the perplexing illusion of traveling nowhere forever brings it all back.
I don't recall traffic signs and signals, the exits I took, parking my car, or carrying her into the building that night. Only the way the ominous stretch of road wound on and on in an otherworldly darkness, with no end in sight.
When that memory surfaces I tend to push it out by escaping into a mindless television binge session for a few hours. Letting the world of make-believe blur my past until it fades back into my subconscious.
It has been almost four years since my daughter went into respiratory distress and slipped into a coma caused by diabetic ketoacidosis. While it took her body about six months to recover, she adapted to her “new normal” of living with Type 1 Diabetes with an immediate effortlessness that only children seem able to achieve.
The Sucking Spiral
For me, finding that "new normal" was a struggle. Until very recently I remained isolated and alone, much like I was in the cocoon of my car that night.
For quite some time, I was stuck in a state of suspended animation. I woke up every morning and gave all of myself to parenting and adulting, and then fell into bed each night emotionally spent.
I faced countless nights too exhausted and anxious about controlling the uncontrollable to be able to achieve the peaceful and restorative sleep I so desperately needed. Before long, and without realization, I had stopped living and started existing. I smiled and laughed, but not as fully. I engaged and participated, but not as wholeheartedly. I was there, and I wasn't.
Late-night television binge sessions were intermingled with binge drinking weekend evenings amongst friends. A part of me, a very quiet and subdued part, knew that how I was choosing to cope was not okay. I just couldn't muster the energy or motivation to do anything about it.
Besides, I wasn’t engaging in my binge behaviors daily. Still, when I did turn on the T.V. and get lost in the screen or enjoy drinks with my friends, I very much didn’t want that momentary escape time to end. Meh, it wasn’t all the time and I was handling my responsibilities, so no harm no foul, right?
One year slipped into two, then three.
Then COVID-19 Hit
Ironically, it wasn’t until the added stress and upheaval of a pandemic that I became fully aware of how much my behavior and dependency on digital devices, as well as my kiddos, were sucking away the vitality of our relationships. Many parents will identify with what I say next, it was only in my worry about and for my children that I was able to recognize the need to help myself.
My son and daughter’s digital use was already a concern prior to COVID. We had a few instances of them receiving and sending inappropriate or hurtful texts. Several tense discussions about why some apps aren’t allowed by me no matter how much they whine and how many of their friends have them. Heated debates about in-app purchases, and my favorite: how minimizing screen time was not actually life threatening.
But, for as much as I complained, I had had a significant role in creating our situation. My son was only eight when his sister was diagnosed. For an entire year I ate, slept and breathed Type 1 Diabetes. I was relieved when he didn't need me. I felt like I didn't have the emotional bandwidth to effectively parent; that Fuller House could do it better. Before the age of six my daughter had a smart device she had to keep within bluetooth range to pair with a medical device; letting her play on it as a distraction from living with a chronic disease seemed reasonable.
My guilt and ambivalence made navigating off our rocky road difficult. I needed guidance. Subjectively, COVID-19 gave me that direction by forcing me to wake up.
Distance learning collided with months of in-person interactions as a family. My children’s strongly-held stance on screen time that I unwittingly perpetuated clashed with my own uphill battles. They all smashed together, creating contradictory confusion on how to achieve what was best for our social and mental health. The status quo was no longer acceptable and pretending we didn't have a problem was no longer appealing.
Searching for a Solution
So what did I do?
I turned to Google and Amazon of course.
I wanted some proof to take to my kids and say,” Hey! It isn’t just mom who is worried. They even make a book to help us with our screen time—and it looks like fun!” (In my imagination, I come across as hip and cool and my kids don’t tune out mid-sentence after throwing me an eye roll.)
I also needed help with how to respond to the ubiquitous and irritating statements I was sure to hear. A way to battle the “I’m bored", and “I don’t have anything to do” when they were presented with my amazing purchases and the subsequent removal of their screen time.
And heck, if they had one for my adult binge habit concerns, too, it would be a win-win situation. For me to be a better role model I needed to first correct my own bad habits.
It sounds like a great starting point, but the sad truth is that I couldn’t find anything out there in the marketplace like what we needed. So I made them.
The Birth of Planournals
Of the millions of products available online, none quite fit the mold of what our family needed to battle our binge habits.
That’s why I created Binge Battle planournals.
Planournals are one-of-a-kind 30-day workbooks. Your planournal challenges you to assess your behaviors and get on the right track to leading a more fulfilling life. It’s a guidance tool, there to help you with your personal growth through guided prompts. It’s based on concepts in positive psychology, prompting you toward purpose and fulfillment.
Who is The Planournal For?
I’d love to tell you how much a planournal could help you improve your habits and fight the suck of binge behaviors. For some people, that’s the truth. Here’s a closer look at who the planournal can benefit.
They are specifically set up as 30-day challenges for those who on some level have already acknowledged they have been using escapism behaviors as crutches. This is a starting point for the people who have been procrastinating putting in the effort to reduce or replace their habits with healthier and more positive ones.
If you find that the 30-day challenge was exceedingly difficult then you may want to take a closer and harder look at your behaviors and seek professional help. Alternatively, the 30-day challenge may have been the motivational boost you needed to get back to engaging more fully in your life again.
But let me be clear: Binge Battle planournals aren’t for everyone. They aren’t designed or meant for substance addiction or other mental health conditions.
If you are one of those incredibly put-together people who have it figured out, a planournal might not be for you either. I applaud and admire if you are on top of things. In fact, I truly believe it takes a village, so if you have some awesome advice I would love suggestions! Throw me an email.
Now the kids?
My purpose and vision for the Binge Battle Screen Time combination set are to create meaningful conversation and positive action in our homes. It’s a way to help the very same kiddos who seem to never want to spend too much time with their “old and uncool” parents. It’s also a way to help kids reduce their binge screen time behaviors and implement new positive habits. To perhaps redirect some of that screen time to work on building those pesky life skills they are going to need some day.
The adult and kid editions mirror each other. The hope is that during dinner, in the car on the way to practice, before bed, or standing at the fridge looking for something to eat, a unique and interesting sentence or two can be exchanged about that day’s quote. Or, maybe, challenge each other to use your daily vocabulary word the next time you talk.
Mostly, I dream that adults and kids talk less about the amount of time spent in front of screens and more about how the time in front of screens is being spent. As parents, we need to ask ourselves if we tend to “miss the forest for the trees” sometimes when it comes to our kids’ screen time.
Let’s Fight the Suck
My experience and reasons for creating the Binge Battle planournals may be more extreme than most. However, all of our time is precious and finite.
Whether you're a parent or not, live in a city or suburb, have a million dollars in your bank account or ten, you have the exact same amount of time each day as the next person.
Are you engaging in activities that add to your well-being, or ones that simply suck things from it?
I am learning to place a better value on my time and appreciate how all my minutes add up. My goal is to help others to do the same by providing a tool to help…